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The State of Iraq
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There was another suicide attack in Iraq today, thwarted from achieving its main objective, but still killing 6 innocent Iraqi bystanders.

There was this detail from the story:

"The car was in front of us, a 1990 Toyota Corolla," said Sabah Ghulam, 37. "He suddenly turned into the hotel. ... A policeman shot at him four times, and then there was the explosion."

Ghulam said the driver was as light-skinned, clean-shaven and did not look like an Iraqi.

Islamic suicide bombers in Palestine and elsewhere usually shave themselves as preparation for a suicide attack. I don't know how reliable the eye-witness is here, but the tactics very strongly suggest that we're dealing with fundamental religious terrorists, ala Al Qaeda.

I don't recall ever hearing of Ba'athists or the Iraqi military or Iraqi Special Forces ever using suicide tactics, at any point in the first Gulf War, the Iran-Iraq War, or the latest Iraq War.

So what does this mean? To me it strongly suggests that the majority of these attacks are not former Ba'athists or disgruntled Iraqi citizens, but fundamental religious terrorists, probably from surrounding countries.

We probably won't know unless or until we capture one of these assholes alive (this happens periodically in Israel when a suicide bomb doesn't detonate properly and either blows off a limb or fizzles).

But it demonstrates to me that even if Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups weren't in cahoots with Saddam before the war, they definitely want to help out in the most extreme way at this point in time. We don't know the extent to which they might be collaborating, and it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't directly communicating, but there seems little doubt that Islamic terrorists would like to see any democratic Iraqi government fail. They may not actually be trying to bring Saddam back to power. More likely, they probably want the Americans to leave and a power vacuum to open up, which could then be filled by one or more of the radical Islamic leaders.

That's my take, for what it's worth. I agree with much of the analysis that these sorts of incidents will get much more press time than the strong, steady progress made toward restoring basic services (I just heard a joke on TV yesterday about how the first Iraqi cell phone service is about to go online, and how Iraqis can then talk to each other over their cell phones about how they don't have water or electricity...which is bunk. Basic services now surpass pre-War levels country-wide.). Security is still bad, but it is not stopping us from making real progress in the country, and that gets very little attention.

Also, I keep hearing Democrats and commentators talking about the need to make the reconstruction portion of the $87 billion Bush wants to put toward Iraq a loan, instead of a "gift". Well, it's not a gift, jackass. It's an investment--in a peaceful, stable, free Middle East. Western Europe after WWII has experienced unprecedented peace, unity, and growth for the past 50 years, in great part due to the Marshall Plan. Same with Japan, which spent a lot of its time and energy trying to conquer its neighbors, when it wasn't engaged in long periods of feudal war, through most of its history. In the past 50 years, despite its lagging economy now, it is still a vibrant, democratic, peaceful, and unified society. And in the vein of enlightened self-interest, when these countries are peaceful and stable, we enjoy the fruits of trade and foreign investment. We can travel to them on our holidays (or even live there for a while). We can exchange, not only goods and services, but ideas, innovations, and scientific knowledge.

Basically, our investment in rebuilding Germany and Japan after WWII has paid us back many times over, and has ensured peaceful, prosperous lives for the people in those countries.

We need to do the same in Iraq, so that in twenty or thirty years, Baghdad can be seen as a vibrant, metropolitan center, like Tokyo, or Paris, or New York, rather than the dilapidated personal playground of a tyrant, which is what it has been for the past thirty years.

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